Thursday, April 17, 2014

Menzies has proven ready for the next level

If Marvin Menzies does not land the vacant Tulsa head coaching job this week, it may come down to the lack of a NCAA Tournament win.

But that shouldn't be the case.

The longer the Tulsa search has dragged on, the more favorable a candidate Menzies appears to be. Four NCAA Tournament appearances in five years, three in a row with a pair of close calls in the Big Dance since 2010. Menzies is 152-89 at NMSU and if he returns for an eighth year, he would likely jump into third in school wins behind legendary Lou Henson and Neil McCarthy by the end of 2015.

Those are some of the obvious things that jump off the resume for potential schools looking to find a coach.

Outside of a NCAA Tournament victory, Menzies has nothing left to prove after 7 seasons in Las Cruces.

Losing four NCAA Tournament games as a low seed can hardly be used against Menzies given the names that have surfaced as contenders for the Tulsa job. But if he is passed over, perhaps it's more telling than I thought. The truth is that the Aggies have not had a signature non-conference victory outside of two UNM wins, which NMSU plays twice each year. Nor has he won an outright conference championship, even last season in the Western Athletic Conference that took a significant step back last year. A quick search on Google would reveal multiple incidents away from basketball that has shed a negative light at times on the NMSU program from afar.

Building on previous success and addressing some of those blemishes is one reason Menzies could return, but that's about it.

Menzies, like all coaches at New Mexico State, have fundraising responsibilities that his peers do not. Menzies is a fantastic fundraiser, but consider the significant time investment the head coach needs to devote to raising money instead of devoting that time to the business of basketball. When budgets are tight like they are at New Mexico State, Menzies relies on the offseason fundraising dollars to lift the program to the success the Aggies are currently enjoying.

And that success has been met by an indifferent response from the fanbase, at best. After seven years, Menzies' teams play to a half empty arena and folks who don't attend games have not bought in.

Tulsa is the type of job I imagined Menzies leaving for. He talks about his family loving the area and he has tremendous support inside the administration. Tulsa leaves Conference USA for the higher profile American Athletic Conference next season.

Menzies told me once that if he were to leave NMSU, he wants to do so to a location where people wouldn't second guess his decision.

Tulsa would be that job.

Tulsa was set to pay Danny Manning 1.4 million after just two seasons. But money alone wouldn't lure Menzies away from NMSU. After seven years grinding it out at NMSU, it's time Menzies learns if he can take a program in a better conference to the next level.

He's already done it here.


Anonymous said...

I for one would sure hate to see Coach Menzies depart. You make a lot of very good points, however, after 7 seasons, the returning players look solid, even if Sim declares. The recruits look pretty damn good, even if there isn't alot of fanfare about them. There seems to be no complacency in the program. Menzies has built a program through very very innovative methods.
Whats left to prove? 1. a deeper run into the tourney. 2. an increased fan presence, it is beyond me as to why locals don't go watch! C'mon Aggies 3. a super-successful season that can result in a big job move for Menzies, Tulsa looks to pay VERY well, but changing coaches and styles, he may take 3 or 4 years to make the program his own. Anything other than a big move has to be seen as lateral, build NMSU into the next mid-major powerhouse, we are on our way!!

Anonymous said...

I believe espn said Tulsa is Hiring Haith from Missouri. It would be nice to see Menzies get a job where he has support from a real fan base. Only a matter of time before his exit comes. No loyal fan base and by this I mean half empty gym and the fans that are their are mad because we are not competing for a national title. Be realistic, what high level player wants to play in front of an empty gym. Secondly, he's on the lower end of the pay scale for a head coach! Just look north. Neil makes 3 times what menzies does and alford made 4 times what menzies makes and they have done nothing of importance that could overshadow NMSU. But their fans are always their in full force!

Anonymous said...

Great post Jason. I hope all the MM haters realize what a truly fantastic job he has done here at NMSU. He's built a program for the long haul. That's not easy to do.

Anonymous said...

Other than money, you gotta figure Menzies has to recognize the importance of getting into a conference that is going to send some at-large schools to the NCAA Tournament. For many of the conference-tournament-championship runs, NMSU's biggest challenges got knocked out early. Menzies understands that winning three games in three days against teams he's playing for the third time in 40 days requires a lot of luck and very few injuries.

Menzies probably wants to land at a school where a 24-9 record and, more importantly, a fan-base that historically travels well are enough to earn a way into the Tournament.

He's also got to recognize that if Paul Weir can recruit as well as he does to NMSU and Las Cruces, then the caliber of player Weir could lure to Missouri (now vacant that Haith landed in Tulsa) would be even higher.

When Utah State was in our conference, they got snubbed repeatedly for winning 25, 27 games (but losing the conference tournament). Menzies has to realize how lucky he's been to win those conference tournaments, but the odds aren't always gonna stick in his favor. If he gets a reasonable offer from a legitimate at-large school, he's got to take it.

Anonymous said...

You give luck too much credit. I don't think MM would think luck was that big of a factor. Also, what makes you think Weir wouldn't stick around to be the head coach?

Anonymous said...

Well thank goodness from Aggie-ville in Las Cruces and around the country. We have a great thing going on at NMSU, with Coach Menzies, Daniel, Sim, Chili, Coach Weir and the entire Aggie team. If we are going to lose Sim to an opportunity to move to next level, then I wish him luck, he always gave us his heart and soul (and a little brother, he he). Coach Menz, glad to see you continue your great work, I hope you go ala Krzyzewski or Ray Meyer stay awhile! there's no place like home where you can join Lou Henson as great ambassadors for the AGGIES!

Anonymous said...

Not a big MM fan but, outside of $ and conference credibility. Tulsa is a lateral move.

Paul Weir would take this program to the next level.

Anonymous said...

MM did have a large fan base when he arrived. His lack of connection has diminished attendance. Paul Weir has recruited some great prospects so we can credit MM for picking good assistants who know the game. Unfortunately MM is the one making game time coaching decisions. He is not quick thinking, motivating, or a strategist. The programs that have passed on him are doing so for a reason. We can pretend we have a great coach at a bargain price but more successful schools know better.

Anonymous said...

Its funny what some wins over Idaho level competition in the WAC Tourney can do for a coach's reputation.

Anonymous said...

Groves I can't agree with the your statement about Menzies not having anything to prove. He has yet to have a solid non-conference season (last year was decent, outside of Western MICh, Colorado State and UNM at home). Solid non-conf leads to people in the seats.

But I also feel like MM has had a large amount of luck in the WAC tournament. The only impressive run was JY's last year when they beat Nevada and Utah State. Other than that, he's had some easy draws. La Tech upset Nevada a few years ago. Then Texas-Arlington and Texas State upset Denver and La Tech respectively. And this year, Idaho beat UVU. So the NCAA tournaments have almost been handed to Menzies.

There's no question that he can recruit and encourage players, but he still has A LOT to prove in my book.


Anonymous said...

Whats funny isn't the perceived lack of competition but the lack of respect for the success achieved by the Menzies coached Aggies. We can talk all we want about Coach Weir taking the program to the next level, well Coach Weir is still going thru his apprenticeship in coaching. A great young recruiter with great promise but without coaching experience. That sounds like a young Menzies, except the schools and coaches Menzies worked under gave him much more experience than Weir has gotten to date. Plus don't think Menzies doesn't have a lot to do with the recruiting as well. Coach Menzies keeps getting serious looks from big programs, I think we need to recognize the gem we have instead of looking at our reflection in the water and seeing a bigger bone. Keep the team together and keep working towards the next level, GO AGGS

Anonymous said...

Not sold on MM as our ticket to the big time. Hes done all he could for himself here. Time for next level of greatness.

Jason Groves said...

DB, I used to agree with that sentiment but apparently the fact that he hasn't won a conference championship etc. doesn't carry as much weight as in the past. He was involved in the Colorado State search and he got even closer at Tulsa. Perhaps bigger schools are believing more in building the program to this point and getting to the tournament over and over at this point. A near miss in March probably helps. A victory and he's certainly gone. Frank Haith has one tournament win I believe.

Anonymous said...

If I am Menzies and I was passed over by CSU and Tulsa I would do one of two things; work my butt off this year to make sure I don't get passed over again or realize that I should probably stop trying to leave a school where I can continue to win and have a pretty secure job.


Anonymous said...

This whole conversation is pure conjecture. The fact is so far MM has not been offered anything from anybody besides NMSU. Not only this, NMSU is in the WAC (which stands for Worst Athletic Conference).

Until either MM gets the gig in a bigger conference or NMSU moves to one, we don't really know how good he is or how 'ready' he is.

I agree that he could prove his readiness by beating more non-conference competition and winning some games in the dance. He has had his chances to do that and so far has simply not done it. That much we do know, regardless of what anybody says.

Anonymous said...

NMSU President Carruthers has committed to getting athletics more $dollars. Possibly positioning the school to land a top pick coach in a few years.

Anonymous said...

What's the status on Bhullar finally??

Anonymous said...

The idea that MM is getting passed over or not offered anything is inaccurate at best. There isn't a public application that is filled out for these jobs. There are contacts made thru various means including the NCAA tourney finals. MM has nothing to prove to prospective ADs, only to NMSU. Many mid-major coaches leave at the 1st opportunity and never reach success, some stay and build programs. MM looks to be building a team, and maybe, just maybe he isn't looking for a bigger job. Coaches owe their players and recruits a great deal of in terms of staying with the program they recruited them for. Perhaps MM is doing just that. Samuels could have jumped up after his good year, he didn't kudos to him, McCarthy had plenty of opportunities as well. MM & Co. will go deeper into the NCAA's and maybe when MM does jump it will be up as in a top tier school. UNM is falling apart as we speak as a result of Alfords departure, I am glad MM is showing loyalty to his players and to Aggie nation!

Anonymous said...

CNN-Bleacher report has an article on the "Players Who Will Regret Leaving Early for the 2014 NBA Draft", number eight is Sim! I know he hasn't officially declared so he is still able to play his junior year and NMSU, so I am hopeful he will see articles such as these and listen to the opinions of those in the know who keep suggesting another year of college ball will give him an almost certain 1st round selection. There are references to Yao Ming and Gheorghe Muresan, the former is definitely a reach, the latter is reason enough to stay put and keep working.